Say Hello to My Friend Jennifer

I’m so excited to introduce you to a friend of mine, Jennifer Jensen. She’s a fantastic writer, a lover of books, and is a huge Dr. Who fan (in case you were wondering, these aren’t compulsory traits to have if you and I are to be friends, but they sure as hell don’t hurt).

Jen’s first novel just dropped last week – a time-travel story (and you know how much I love time travel) aimed at middle-schoolers. Scroll to the end of this post to see the cover and read the blurb, as well as links to Amazon and all of the cyber-places Jennifer hangs out at.

For now, though, I’ll let Jen do the talking.

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Ah, the end of summer.

If you follow social trends, you’ll notice a push for parents to create summer memories and back-to-school rituals. Picking apples at a local orchard, one last BBQ or boating trip, a movie marathon before homework takes over – take your pick.

Long, long, LONG ago (you know, when dinosaurs were still around), kids in my social group didn’t have any particular end-of-summer rituals unless their FFA or 4-H animals were good enough to qualify for the State Fair. The cool kids might have a final pool party or big city shopping trip, but not us. We were busy riding horses, having sleep-overs in tents in each others’ backyards, and stuffing ourselves with wild Oregon blackberries. (You could lean a ladder against a 10’ tall bush and pick a gallon from one spot. And people wonder why I miss Oregon – sheesh!)

The closest my family came to a summer finale was Labor Day weekend, but it wasn’t for a camping trip. Mom and Dad had us convinced that Labor Day was set aside as a day “when everyone is supposed to work,” and we had to spend the entire day painting fences. Can you say G-U-L-L-I-B-L-E ?

81xArEHrzuL._SL1500_If we thought about the end of summer much, it was speculating who our teachers would be and which cute guys would be in our classes that year. And the excitement of back-to-school shopping. When I was little, September meant a luscious box of pointy new crayons, all 96 colors if I was lucky. It meant choosing whether I wanted kittens or horses on my folders, until I grew up enough to want the beige Pee-chees that the cool kids had. And by 7th grade, it was hoping Mom would be willing to spring for an “organizer,” not just folders. I couldn’t wait for school to start – new classes, new teachers, and new things to learn.

It hasn’t changed – I’m still a geek and I still buy a year’s supply spiral notebooks in August!

Is it any surprise that books played a big part in my summers, despite all our outdoor activity? I dragged a book or two on every camping trip, every long drive, every family visit, to the point where my mother had to tell me to put my book down and go play. My kids caught the reading bug, too: Son 1 tried reading The Wheel of Time at age 10, Son 2 loved anything non-fiction, and SuperDaughter spent a whole drive from Indiana to Oregon with her nose buried in Stephen King. All of us, at various ages, have been caught with a flashlight and book under the covers.

Before jobs and school sports got in the way, my boys spent late summer days playing “fort” in the hayloft and exploring the creek across the road, at least when I could get them off the computer. (SuperDaughter wasn’t thrilled with the outdoors and stayed plugged in with her books and music.) The boys went to Scout camp, gathered with friends at various houses, had bonfires and roasted marshmallows, and yes, rode horses.

Now they’re in college, and what do they remember about the end of summer? Back-to-school shopping! Backpacks, new jeans, and an endless list of school supplies. No last summer blast for us – I must have been a horrible mom!

Jim, my protagonist in Through the Shimmer of Time, has his own end-of-summer blast. It’s August, but he’s not really thinking about school – he’s completely captivated with the upcoming LaunchFest, where he’ll compete with his newest model rocket. The only problem is that he was having too much fun and got grounded for doing something like this:

So he’s stuck tagging along with his mom and his little sister, bored on a hot summer day in a history park. What kind of summer send-off is that? Of course he has to go in search of the haunted cabin!

What about you? Are you creating end-of-summer celebrations with your kids, or just letting the season wind happily to a close? If there’s a living history park near you, has it become a summer ritual?

•••     •••     •••

Final coverA mysterious pottery shard . . .

            A haunted cabin . . .

                        A shadowy stranger . . .

                                   And no way home

Present Day: Jim has a talent for getting into trouble. Grounded from his model rockets, he goes exploring where he shouldn’t and gets zapped back in time. Can he find the way back home again or is he marooned in the past?

1838: Hannah’s life in her frontier village is filled with a little play and a lot of hard work. A seemingly harmless trick lures a strange, dazed boy from the old haunted cabin. Now Hannah must make a choice – and face the dangers.

Together, Jim and Hannah struggle to unmask a thief and solve a murder while they search for the key to unlock time.  It will take courage and wits, plus the rocket motors in Jim’s pocket, just to stay alive.

Pick up your copy of THROUGH THE SHIMMER OF TIME here.

Go have a look at Jennifer’s website here.

Hang out with Jennifer on Facebook here.

Tweet with Jennifer here.

Show Jennifer some love in the comments!



Five Things My Mother Used to Say (That I Really Didn’t Get at the Time) – Guest Post by Kassandra Lamb

Today I’m tickled to let Kassandra Lamb hijack my blog. Partly because I’m always happy when someone wants to do the work of blogging for me, but mostly because she’s cool and clever and a really great writer.  

Since she knows I’m in the thick of All Things Motherhood, she’s talking about things her mom used to tell her that never made sense through the eyes of a kid. Now that she’s all grown up, though, she gets it. Do you have memories like that? My mom used to always say (usually in reference to Tom Selek), “That man could eat crackers in my bed.” I never got it until I was a teenager…and then I was all like, “Ewwwww….”

Anyway, here’s Kassandra. You’re going to love her. Promise.

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My mama was the queen of one-line comments on life: ours, hers or some commentary on human existence in general. When I was a kid, I only got what she meant about half the time. Here are a few of my favorites (in the order in which I “got” them).

How ya fixed for spit?  Wha? I just asked for a cookie and she’s talkin’ bout spit? Hope she doesn’t spit on my cookie.

Somewhere around seven, I got it that she was annoyed with little ole whiny, demanding me.

Edelrose_0413 by Leander Schiefer CC BY SA 3pt0 wikiJune roses bloom longer. I was the very, very last girl in my junior high school to develop. I would try to climb into my locker when changing for gym class because I was the only one still wearing an undershirt instead of a training bra (I always wondered exactly how they were supposed to be training one’s boobies… ‘Stand up straight there, soldier!’ ‘Yes, Sir!’)

I was devastated by the good Lord’s lack of generosity in the bosom department, and my mother’s giving me gardening advice?

Fast-forward to my high school five-year reunion. Most of the girls who were voluptuous in seventh grade are now at least a tad overweight, and I am still my naturally thin self. And I could eat just about anything and stay that way. Ah, gotcha, Ma!

Don’t marry the man you think you can live with, marry the one you can’t imagine living without. I was a junior in high school when I had my first serious relationship. I’d had a couple puppy-love ones before that, but this was the real thing (actually it wasn’t, but I thought it was at the time).

I come home from our third date and I’m picking out color schemes for my wedding. Then my mother lays this line on me. What? I’m supposed to live with the guy after I marry him, as in whisker-hairs-in-the-bathroom-sink-smelly-socks-on-the-floor live with him? I hadn’t really thought that far ahead!

US_Navy_070420-N-3321R-004_Sailors_motorcyclists_Oak_Harbor pub domain wiki

Bring on them bad boys! But live with them? Hmm, let me give that some thought.

Seven years later, I’m dating a man who doesn’t make my stomach do somersaults like the bad-boy boyfriends of my past (I’d finally realized that was fear, not love), but he does make me feel loved and secure. Yeah, Ma, got that one!

I’m busier than a one-armed paper hanger. Okay, I still don’t really get this one. But I know now why she chortled every time she said it.

When I was in my early thirties, I interviewed my mother about her childhood as an assignment for a grad school class. I found out some things about my grandfather, who had died before I was born. He was a sweet man and my mother adored him, but he couldn’t hold a job or keep a business going to save his life. This caused her parents to fight a lot, and eventually separate.

The best years of her childhood were the five or so when he did manage to earn a consistent living. During that time, he was a house painter and paper hanger! And that was his favorite one-liner.

I’m so busy in retirement, I don’t know how I ever had time to work. Ma certainly didn’t coin this phrase. I’d heard it before she retired and many times since. I really thought she was exaggerating, until I’d been retired for a couple years myself. There are so many interesting things to do when you no longer have to earn a living, it really is easy to get too busy.

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Embroidered by my mother; one of the many things she got into as a retiree.

And then I got bit by the writing bug, and now I am truly the busiest I have ever been in my life!

How about you? What pearls of wisdom did your mother throw before swine because you were too young to get it?

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Ohmygosh, I can’t wait to read the comments in this post! 

Hey, and Kass has a new book out. It’s the FIFTH in her mystery series. Check out this blurb:

When a former client reveals a foreign diplomat’s dark past to psychotherapist Kate Huntington, she and her family and friends are sucked into a vortex of international intrigue. Forced into hiding, they struggle to stay one step ahead of a ruthless killer bent on keeping the ambassador’s secret.

Sounds good, right? And even though it’s part of a series, Kass tells me it’s a fantastic stand-alone read! Click on the following links to check it out.




Ginger Calem and the Epic ASSessory: The CRACK PATCH

Today marks the last day of post-natal guest-posting here at Blogging Barefoot.  Who better to close out these fabulous posts than Ginger Calem, blogger supreme, and my very good friend.

Hike up those britches, and let Ginger enlighten you!


Occasionally I run across a product that truly baffles me, not to mention an image I’d like to erase from my memory back.  This happened recently when I stumbled upon this doozy of a product, The bedazzled crack-patch.

Yeah, that’s what I thought too.  I mean, wouldn’t you just wear pants that didn’t show off your crack?  Or how about seeing thong underwear proudly on display over the waistband of jeans.  A. Your shirt is too short. B. It’s just wrong, WRONG!

Or how about the male equivalent or this look …

Sadly, I can tell you the trend in underwear for teenage boys in our town.  One trip to the middle school or high school and it’s all bagging out the top of their skinny jeans for all to see.

Now before you think I’m an out-of-touch prude, I’m totally down with low-rider jeans.  I have a closet full of them and have dutifully gotten rid of all my 80′s jeans.  But, I’m still not showing off my panties or my hiney and I sure as heck am not going to bedazzle my crack.

What do you think?